Five years of civil war has turned Syria into a very different country than it once was. The violence is relentless. President Bashar al-Assad's forces are battling rebel groups who want to destroy his regime, and there's a second war raging in an attempt to keep ISIS from taking control of the region.
Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, is at the center of it all, and while thousands have fled, there are also many people that have stayed behind. Before the civil war began in 2012, Aleppo had over 2 million residents. There were historical sites, marketplaces and beautiful mosques as old as the 12th century.
Today, these areas are barely distinguishable after bombings have left them shrouded in rubble. Both sides frequently shell the city, and in late 2015 Russia joined the war as well, supporting Assad's regime. Russia's airstrikes have utilized cluster bombs, despite the fact that they've been internationally banned, and they've cause an immense amount of damage.
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The Syrian government has also used barrel bombs to target highly residential areas like schools, mosques and hospitals. Many people have been killed and many are now homeless because of the destruction. The government claims they're doing it to fight terrorism.
There have been some efforts to maintain the ceasefire declared by the United Nations, but the violence has continued in spite of it. Aleppo's residents live in fear of losing everything at any given moment. When the fighting first broke out, the wealthy were the first to leave. Those who remain in Aleppo have barely enough money to live on.
Assad's regime has also cut off water and electricity to the parts of the city controlled by opposition forces, as well as all but one supply route, making it nearly impossible to get food, bottled water, or medical supplies. The already destitute people of Aleppo now struggle daily to get their basic needs met.
One of the most difficult things to realize about Syria's war is that when it eventually does come to an end, the generation that will be tasked with rebuilding the country may be woefully unprepared. There is hardly an education system left in Aleppo, so the children who will grow up with the responsibility of rebuilding the country likely won't have the necessary skills for this monumental task.
BBC: Profile: Aleppo, Syria's second city
The Atlantic: The Last Pediatrician in Aleppo
Understanding War: Assad Regime Gains in Aleppo Alter Balance of Power in Northern Syria
Newsweek: Inside Aleppo, Syria's Most War-Torn City
-- Molly Fosco